USA announces sanctions on two officials over North Korea's missile program

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The UN Security Council imposed new sanctions on North Korea on Friday in response to ballistic missile tests.

The United States on Tuesday sanctioned two senior North Korean officials for their involvement in the regime's illicit ballistic missile program.

"Treasury is targeting leaders of North Korea's ballistic missile programs, as part of our maximum pressure campaign to isolate (North Korea) and achieve a fully denuclearized Korean Peninsula", it said in a statement.

In response to the United Nations vote, North Korea called the sanctions "an act of war" on Sunday.

The new U.S. sanctions will block any transactions by the two men carried out in the USA, essentially freezing any American assets they may have.

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Kim Jong Sik is a key figure in North Korea's program to convert liquid fuel to solid, according to the Treasury Department. The resolution put a cap on the country's crude oil imports and limits imports of refined oil products.

North Korean state television ripped the recent unanimous United Nations vote to deliver stronger sanctions against Kim Jong Un as "rigged up by the USA and its followers [and a] grave infringement upon the sovereignty of our republic".

On Monday, Pyongyang, which sees joint war games between the United States and South Korea as preparations for invasion, raised the stakes in its stand-off with the United States and its allies by firing an intermediate-range missile over Japan. US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un have also traded personal insults. In the wake of the North's first two ICBM tests in July and its sixth nuclear test in September, Trump threatened to unleash "fire and fury" and "totally destroy" the regime if necessary.

Under his supervision, the program has been transformed from a slew of failed rocket launches to the successful testing of intercontinental ballistic missiles that can be armed with nuclear weapons and are capable of reaching the US mainland. The resolution adopted by the council also demands the repatriation of all North Koreans working overseas within 24 months. It also prohibits the export of certain items including machinery, electrical equipment and wood.

Both Kim Jong-sik and Ri were blacklisted in the resolution. The latest test, which took place in November, led to the sanctions announced last week.

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